6th October 2019

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a term that has become popular in recent years, often used in conversations but not always fully understood. So what is Emotional Intelligence? Many people believe it is about having and expressing strong feelings, this can often come with negative connotations.  Essentially, Emotional Intelligence refers to a person’s ability to identify, manage, regulate and respond effectively to their own and others emotions. Emotional Intelligence goes hand in hand with empathy; ( a heightened sensitivity to yours and others’ emotions) which makes it easier to recognize the underlying feelings driving another person’s actions, relate to them, and then in response treat them with kindness and compassion rather than contempt, confusion, or carelessness. Emotional intelligence typically correlates with communication skills because having heightened emotional awareness can make it easier to explain to someone exactly how you’re feeling or what’s bothering you. As we learn to effectively understand and empathically express our emotions, it becomes easier to self- regulate, problem-solve and not get overwhelmed in the face of upset and conflict. This makes us more pleasant to be around and improves our interactions and relationship with others. So how can we develop and improve our Emotional Intelligence? I believe it is important to stop blocking out our emotions. Some of the ways we numb ourselves to our emotions include drugs, alcohol, screens, social media, gambling, food, television, etc. These coping mechanisms and habits we adopt can become hard-to-break. When we have an impulse to turn to our coping mechanisms to […]
17th August 2019

Healthy boundaries.

  This blog is to help those of us who feel like we cannot say no and as a result, become frustrated and overwhelmed, because we have spread ourselves too thinly. Often we can feel torn between promises to family, friends, work responsibilities, financial obligations. Having too many commitments that emotionally and physically drain us can lead us to feel that we are not in control of our lives. Healthy boundaries are crucial for emotional, physical and relational health, as well as our care and respect towards ourselves and others. When there is no clear partition between our and others’ needs and feelings, relationships can suffer and eventually may result in feelings of resentment, disappointment, or even violation. Most people are not trying to violate our boundaries—they just aren’t aware of what they are, this is because, often, we are not clear with ourselves and ultimately others about what we want or need So, what are boundaries? They are decisions that we make often subconsciously, which direct our behaviour and the way we interact with others. Another way of looking at boundaries is seeing them as to where we decide to draw our line in the sand. To better understand where our lines lie we must listen to our inner voice that says “I will go that far and no further.” Emotional boundaries are about respecting our own feelings and knowing our worth. It is crucial that we care for our own needs before we can have healthy relationships and […]
16th June 2019

Care Givers.

I’m writing this blog as a tribute to those who care for loved ones. For the past three years, I have had the privilege to work part-time as a volunteer counsellor for a charity that supports carers. It is estimated that 6.5 people in the UK provide unpaid care to a family member, neighbour or friend, this equates to one in eight people. Many carers juggle school, college, full or part-time jobs, with their caring role.  A large number of carers give up their jobs to become full-time carers, this can become a lonely and isolating experience, as a consequence of this, carers can experience both physical and mental ill-health. I have supported carers at different stages in their caregiving journey for some, at the beginning and for others at the end. Every carer has a different combination of life circumstances. However, consistent common themes in the carers I worked with included: anxiety, depression, anger, grief, guilt, resentment and hopelessness.  The role of a caregiver becomes part of your identity –  you are responsible for the well-being of another, much like the role of a mother. This involves managing personal and practical care, providing a safe environment, whilst constantly being vigilant, putting their needs first and making sure that the cared- for wants for nothing. Being able to feel upbeat and positive when you’re under such pressure can become impossible. In my experience carer’s emotions can swing from immense sadness to resentment and anger. They then feel guilty about feeling […]
11th February 2019

Anxiety

This blog is aimed at helping people manage their anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, understanding a little of how our body responds to stress and anxiety is a helpful way to deal with it, then hopefully long-term problems will not occur. We perceive situations and problems either as a challenge or a threat,  if we feel the demands outweigh our resources to cope then the situation or problem becomes a stressor.  If the stress is not addressed and processed, it becomes an internal stressor and moves into what we call anxiety. There are differences between stress and anxiety. Stress is when the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode releasing a mixture of hormones and chemicals, namely adrenaline and cortisol, these prepare the body to take physical action. When the threat has subsided, the hormones coursing through our bodies recede and we return to a state of calm.  However, if our brains are not functioning correctly, our mind says we are under threat and our systems continue to produce high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. We can only undergo ‘fight or flight’ responses for a limited amount of time before our bodies become overloaded, exhausted, unable to self-regulate and this is where problems occur. There are overlaps between stress and anxiety, but the two emotions feed off different stressors. With stress, the stressors are perceived from the outside in the here and now and with anxiety, the stressors are perceived from the […]
10th November 2018

Improving our communications

  This blog is written in tribute to those suffering from a neurological or cognitive impairment, who are no longer able to communicate verbally. Talking enables us to connect with others and gives us a sense of belonging. Communicating positively enhances our life satisfaction, increases a general sense of wellbeing and so makes us happy. But why is it then so many of us get it wrong? Communication is about how we send messages and interpret the replies, no message is ever without some kind of bias. Due to our upbringing, our education, our culture and our social and cultural mores we cannot but have biases and prejudices. This all increases the likelihood of us misinterpreting what the other person is trying to tell us. I believe the most important skill for successful communication is listening. And listening is different from hearing. If you want to communicate clearly then it is important for you to carefully listen. Listening is an art, which requires you to be genuinely interested in a non-judgemental, unbiased way, without your own agenda intruding. Some tips for helping you to communicate more productively with others: Avoid giving titles and interpretations of your observations. Try to be objective, opinions are often expressions of bias. Arguments often develop from repressed emotions. It is important to own up to your own feelings, no one makes you feel emotions, they are simply your subjective responses. Make your requests as clearly as you can for as they become clearer then your […]
27th August 2018

Responding to Challenging Situations

This blog is dedicated to my mother and loved ones, along with the incredible doctors and nurses who saved my life. This time last year I was in the hospital struggling with double pneumonia and pleurisy.  My heart was under immense pressure, I was unable to breathe on my own, it felt like my chest was being crushed, the pain was excruciating and I drifted in and out of consciousness.  I can remember telling my mother I was ready to die, and letting go.  I felt I was floating above snow-capped mountains surrounded by the most incredible light, I felt no pain, just peace.  I then remember jolting back into the hospital bed and the excruciating pain returning.  I made a decision that if I could survive this life experience,  then I would be able to overcome any challenging life situation. I will never again take for granted being able to breathe on my own, or have a shower and be able to use the bathroom independently.  Whenever I’m struggling, or feel stressed and anxious, I take a deep breath in and access the inner peace and calm that I experienced in the hospital. My experience in hospital highlighted the importance of tolerance and choosing how we communicate with others. We can choose to communicate with kindness, state our position politely and firmly then disengage, or, we can choose unhelpful and unhealthy ways to communicate, such as finger-pointing, shouting, blaming,  attacking others and causing conflict. Both ways of communicating are within our control, we just need to be aware of our conscious processes. Observing other patients and their families go through their own challenging life […]
12th August 2018

Depression

Depression will affect one in four of us at some point in our lives. If depression is not being recognised then neither will be a suicidal intention. This blog is written to share my experience which will hopefully help others manage their own internal conflict. Depression is defined as a mental condition, characterised by severe feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy typically accompanied by a lack of energy and interest in life that then affects everyday functioning. There are a number of depressive disorders, the classification of which depends on the length of time and the level of severity. So, whether we are treating mild or severe forms of depression there are areas that need to be considered such as biological and genetic internal factors as well as external factors such as loss, grief, along with environmental and early life experiences. There is no one typical experience of depression, but what we do know is depression affects the way we think, feel and function and it is a difficult condition to manage and live with. I became depressed when I was diagnosed with Scleroderma. I believed I had been given a death sentence, it became hard for me to articulate clearly and remember things. My thought processes became jumbled and I became trapped in a cycle of rumination. I became withdrawn and got lost in unhealthy thought processes and considered suicide as a solution. At the time I found counselling and medication to be a huge help. I have since learnt […]
21st June 2018

Loss and Grief

Life has always been precarious, fragile and impermanence may seem harsh. Life is about gain and loss, accepting this allows us the potential for healing and repair. It is  how we carry on after a loss that is important.  Loss is not something we are able to control. The only thing we can do is control our actions and reactions to it. Missing someone or something is part of life. When something we thought was constant changes ,we often question our belief system. The fragility we feel after a loss, is very real. Grief responses are instinctive in all of us and are geared towards re-establishing our relationship with the loved one. A common feeling of grief is pain each time the loss is remembered. Searching, longing, denial, are all means of self protection and a way to avoid pain. Different attachment styles will have a huge impact on how we experience grief and the loss of a loved one or situation.  The quality of our different attachment will affect our ability to accept and normalise our emotional reactions when bonds are broken. Western culture has opted for a sanitised version of loss and grief, we don’t tend to talk very much about it so don’t know what to expect. We will all experience different kinds of loss throughout our life.  Loss offers tangible evidence of our mortality, which can trigger feelings of helplessness, vulnerability and fear. All of which will have a profound  impact on our inner self.  Grief is not weak or self-indulgent. I believe talking […]
10th May 2018

Pain

Pain Pain is debilitating, our natural human response to pain is to escape from it, get rid of, or avoid it. The reality for many pain sufferers’ is, it is an unavoidable and part of everyday life. Learning to ‘Be With’ pain, illness and distress is a challenge. I find managing my chronic pain is wearing and exhausting and I do go to my dark place. Quiet often, my resolve to stay alive and lead a meaningful purposeful life gets severely tested, my pain does eat away at my determination to stay strong, and my resilience to keep going diminishes. The breakthrough in learning how to ‘Be With’ my pain came when I realised that I was inadvertently allowing my resistance to my illness the energy that it needed to gather momentum.  In my desire to avoid and get rid of my pain and ‘Do’ something about it, I was getting sucked down by it. The metaphor of unconsciously allowing energy to gather momentum has helped me change my frame of reference and shift my position. My pain is what I deal with, it does not define me. Finding ways to dampen down the intensity of pain and functioning I believe is key.  For me, being able to function means that I choose to take pain medication.  The dosage I take, varies according to my levels of my pain.  I know that when I am bad, I need to get help and therefore I “Get the big guns out”. I am very aware of the side effects that the medication has on my […]